Creating an Original Character

The Building Blocks

I’ve put together a cheat sheet based on how I begin building my characters. There’s tons of those out there already of course and a lot that go into details 500+ questions deep. But we’re not looking for a laundry list of How many siblings do they have to How do they cross the street here. Rather, we’re trying to build a foundation from which the rest of the character can grow comfortably.

It covers things like their physical description, their voice, and (most importantly) their motivation. All things you need to get you started.

Creating an original character

Who are they?

Begin by jotting down three words that represent them. Don’t overthink it. Boil them down to the essentials.

Physical:

Description. Notable Features. How do others see them?

This may be a misleading section. While description and notable features are largely straight forward, How do others see them? is one of my favourite questions to ask. Do they easily intimidate others? Are they often underestimated? If so, why? What characterizes them to others and how does the world at large treat them?

Voice:

Vocabulary. Speech Pattern. Thought Process. Ticks.

This is where the character’s voice comes from as you write them. Think about what words they use a lot. Or if they favour simple words or big words. Dig for ticks that may bleed into the narration. Do they think a lot? What do those thoughts look like? Do the ramble or keep things precise? Do they drive past a pasture and go Horse! no matter what? Those sorts of things.

Motivation:

Goals. Why? Overcome

What are their goals as the story begins and as it continues or concludes? Why are they doing what they are doing? And what do they need to overcome? 

This, in particular, is the part that will change over time and show character development. Though, really, all of the above can (and might) change. Being consistent as you build them is important so that when the change happens it matters. 

Latchkey Hero, a Dying Light Fan Fiction

2016-04-14 – 3 years – 350000 words

“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.” – George Orwell

The fall of Harran robbed man of its humanity, and Zofia Sirota of her innocence. Finding redemption, with the city rotting away around her, seems to be a pipe dream at best, until a man falls from the skies and turns futility to hope. Either that, or he’s about to make things a whole lot worse.

Kyle Crane

LatchkeyHero.com

Season 1: Latchkey Hero
A man falls from the skies and makes things a whole lot worse.

The Gunsmith: A Lady’s Favour
There’s a little girl in dire need of modern-day magic, and still, Crane tells Zofia: “Stay here.”

At the Tower: Hide and Seek
In which Kyle Crane finds it horribly difficult to stay on target and regrets having put on jeans for the day.

Season 2: Volatile

Season 3: #SaveHarran

All the art you see has either been done by delborovic, saph-y, or nucleargers (nsfw).

Kyle Crane
Kyle and Zofia (not Fi, not Zo, not Sofia, don’t you dare)
Kyle Crane
Kyle and his Cranebar
Kyle Crane
Kyle Crane
Dying Light Latchkey Hero
“official” cover art

I’ve done it. Finally. It took me three years, and a bunch of times of almost giving up, but here I am. The last chapter has been drafted, and all that’s left is a little more patience and a few more nights of editing what I got. Then Latchkey Hero is done.

Thank you, everyone, who has taken the time to read it.

It’s been… an experience. Thanks to you and with you, and like for any experience’s third birthday, I ought to at least make some noise. So here it is, that noise. A bunch of links on where to find the complete series, its sparkling new website, and some art that I’ve collected over… uh… the years. Literal years. Man, this feels weird.

The Magic of Writing

Welcome to my amazing friend’s debut post on her writing blog.  @owlishments will be sharing with us what she’s experienced, past and present, during her long and rewarding writing journey.

Go on, have a read.  It’s well worth it.

Have faith, fellow writer.

All Night Writing

Writing is magic. It’s true. Think about it: Using varying combinations of twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks, you can build an entire world. You can create brand new people for your readers to meet. You can make people feel love, hate, and everything between.

Pure magic.

But you don’t have to wait for your letter to Hogwarts to wield it. You don’t even need a wand—unless you want to pretend you pen is one, because it might as well be. The power to tell a story comes from inside you. It’s something we learn as small children playing games in the backyard, imagining that the trees are giants and the ants are our friends. With time, practice, and a drive to tell your story, you can learn to write.

It isn’t easy. Art never is. The words you write are an extension of yourself.  A piece of…

View original post 569 more words

Dying Light: Latchkey Hero

Season 3, #SaveHarran

. . . is outlined.  For the first time, I’m actually seeing the ending in front of me.  Not just by thinking about it, but by flipping through the notepad that I’ve had with me from the start, where Latchkey Hero’s first few words were written, and where I’ve plotted and outlined almost all of season two and three.

 

It’s falling apart, I admit, but with all the abuse it’s been getting I am not surprised.  And with abuse I mean waking up in the middle of the night, having an idea and figuring something out and dropping the thing three times before finding a pen.

But what delights me the most?  How absolutely perfectly it fit.

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No one can tell me that this isn’t a sign.  That Kyle Crane’s and Zofia’s journey isn’t about to pause where it ought to, because they’ve done the unthinkable and been with me for two years of incredible joy and headache.  Mostly joy though.  And pride.  I am so proud of them.

Yeah, it was Latchkey’s two year birthday on the 14th of April.  🎊

Neat.  Right?

So.  What now?  Now I got to write everything that I’ve outlined, and get back to posting once I’ve caught up.  Which, I’ll be honest, feels a bit like I’m staring at the Mount Everest right now.  It’s all a little scary.

But we got this.  748 words and counting.

Latchkey Notepad

 

A Shielding Thing: Day 0

When I was twelve or so, I was neck deep in imagining a world that knew no boundaries, where one day little Taff would chop at the air with a lightsaber, and the other she’d battle fierce Xenomorphs.  Or why not both at once?  It was a world, where velociraptors were friendly, and horses had feathers, and dragons liked it when you rode the skies with them.

It was great.

But then life happened, innocence was lost, and while I grew up, so did the carefree and boundless world.  It changed.  Over. And. Over. Again.  Until the only thing that I could still recognize, was a single name in it:  Shielding. 

And for so long- for more than a century -I’ve doubted that I would ever be able to pluck that world from my head at all.  Because everyone says they’ll write a book one day, don’t they?  Well.  A lot of them, anyway, except then they never actually do.

Just look at Google’s opinion on the matter of:

howmany

Out of every 1,000 people that set out to write a book, only 30 actually finish. And if you then add on top of that the fact that only 20% of people who write a book actually publish it, this means only 6 people get published. [source]

Don’t quote me on that tho’ – it’s from 2012, and we’ve got self publishing really taking off now, which, hey- was mostly why I’ve finally decided that I’ve run out of excuses.  Because once you’ve put almost four novels worth of content out there, have finished three books, there’s really no more room to argue “But, I can’t.” 

Shielding Thing - A Valiant Remedy

Latchkey Hero, my Dying Light fan fiction, has made it into a solid third season, with two whole books finished.  Season two and three are good as original already, giving me an opportunity to practice building a plot from the bottom up.

A Valiant Remedy ended at 200k words, and… doesn’t suck.  Who’d have thought bringing A Shielding Thing together with Chris Redfield Resident Evil, would actually work?

So.

Buckle up.

We are getting started.  And since I’m posting this there, I suppose I got to take responsibility for actually following through.

Part 1 of the first book has been outlined.  Sort of.

Reviewing Fan Fiction ?

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Have you ever wondered how to go about telling your favourite author how amazing their work is?  Or would you like to be able to help a budding fan fiction writer improve their craft?  Preferably without chasing them off the pasture?

If you have, read on.  If you haven’t- well- uh- have a puppy.

puppy

I read a decent amount of Fan Fiction.  Maybe not as much as others, but there’s a good reason for that:  While someone else might go and consume everything out there with their particular OTP in it, or dig into the trenches of their fandom’s archive, I read what I’m being given on the /r/FanFiction Discord server.  Sometimes that means I will read a short.   Sometimes a single chapter of a novel length piece.  Or, at occassion, the whole 350k word behemoth.

And I read to review.  Hardly ever will I leave a fic without dropping a comment / review on my way out.  Most often than not multiple ones, since I firmly believe every individual chapter deserves my attention.

Depending on my relationship with the author, or their explict wishes, I may even try to leave constructive critisim.  Though at the end of the day it is not my job to try and edit their work, or mold their writing to fit my taste or standard.  Considering that they are doing this for the joy of it, and not for profit, throwing unwanted advice their way can have a very discouraging effect.

So, what do I do if I am being asked to review / beta / callitwatchawant a piece that doesn’t live up to the quality I am otherwise used to?  Yeah, I might think Oh boy, but-

That. Does. Not. Mean. It. Sucks.

All it really means, is that the author has picked writing fan fiction as a hobby, but isn’t necessarily very good at it. Yet. We’ve all been there, an universal truth that we sometimes forget.

So.

Let us assume that I’ve read a fic by someone who does not have English as their native language, therefore obviously has grammatical errors in them.  They are also rather new to pacing and to character development / introduction, and make mistakes such as using the word orbs for eyes and mentioning everyone by the colour of their hair.

I’m being given ten chapters of all those clumsy little words, and asked to tell them exactly what I think.

What do I do?

Pick my battles. 

Throwing myself in there and lumping it all together would likely feel like I’m absolutely slamming them.  And that would have the opposite effect to what I am trying to accomplish.  It’d drive them off.  Maybe even make them want to stop writing.

We do not want that.

So what I tend to do is, for each chapter, I pick up things that I believe should be addressed. I might mention specific grammatical mistakes in each, a handful at best. Sometimes I correct them in detail two or three times, before only mentioning them in passing.

Then, I mention what I like.  I highlight sentances that were good.  Show them what they are doing right, because not only will that take away the sting from before, but it’ll also provide a comparison to what they did wrong.

In short: This is how you shouldn’t do it, but look, this is right!  Keep doing this.  But stop doing that.

Then I move on to the next chapter, giving them the same treatment there, but focusing on a different set of errors.  If I talked about grammer first, I might now touch on the epithet elephants in the room.  Or hand them a few alternatives for orbs.  Like actual eyeballs.  Squishy, squishy eyeballs.

Before too long, we are back on what they did well, and by the end, I hope to have a tall stack of nicely layered critique sandwiches.

sammich

Mmmm… tasty tasty sammiches.  After all, they deserve the good stuff too, more so still than the advice I have to give.  If anything, I prefer encouragement, and to show them that however bad they think their writing might be, it is not a lost cause. No writing ever is.

From there on out, it is up to them.  Do I hope that they’ve learned something?  Sure, why wouldn’t I.  Would I feel dejected if they decide to disregard what I’ve told them?  Yeeaaah- probably, though since we assumed that they’d asked for help, we’re more entering “How to accept advice.” territory here.

What I’ll never do though, and what gets my blood boiling if I see it done, is throw their writing under the bus.  It’s not my place to do so.  It’s no one’s place to do so.  To think a writer (or any artist, really) would abandon a craft they love because someone couldn’t keep civil, breaks my heart.

*The above is written with Fan Fiction in mind, and not meant to represent the job of a paid editor working with an author preparing a book for publishing.  Neither does it cover betaing or editing agreements between Fan Fiction writers who want to get their work torn to pieces.